Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Judaism, Christianity, and Environmentalism. By Dennis Prager.

Judaism, Christianity, and Environmentalism. By Dennis Prager. National Review Online, April 1, 2014. Also at DennisPrager.com.


As I have often noted, the most dynamic and influential religion of the past hundred years has not been Christianity, let alone Judaism, the two religions that created the Western world. Nor has it been Islam. It has been Leftism.
Leftism has influenced the literary, academic, media, and, therefore, the political elite far more than any other religion has. It has taken over Western schools from elementary through graduate.
For most of that time, various incarnations of Marxism have been the dominant expressions, and motivators, of Leftism: specifically, income redistribution, material equality, and socialism. They are still powerful aspects of the Left, but with the downfall of most Communist regimes, other left-wing expressions have generated even more passion: first feminism and then environmentalism.
Nothing comes close to environmentalism in generating left-wing enthusiasm. It is the religion of our time. For the Left, the earth has supplanted patriotism. This was largely inevitable in Europe, given its contempt for nationalism since the end of World War I and even more so since World War II. But it is now true for the elites (almost all of whose members are leftists) in America as well.
This was most graphically displayed by the infamous Time magazine cover of April 21, 2008, which altered the most iconic photograph in American history — Joe Rosenthal’s picture of the Marines planting the flag on Iwo Jima. Instead of the American flag, the Time cover depicted the Marines planting a tree. The caption on the cover read, “How to Win the War on Global Warming.” In other words, just as German and Japanese Fascism was the enemy in World War II, global warming is the enemy today. And instead of allegiance to the nation’s flag, now our allegiance must be to nature.
This is the antithesis of the Judeo-Christian view of the world that has dominated Western civilization for all of the West’s history. The Judeo-Christian worldview is that man is at the center of the universe; nature was therefore created for man. Nature has no intrinsic worth other than man’s appreciation and moral use of it.
Worship of nature was the pagan worldview, a worship that the Hebrew Bible was meant to destroy. The messages of the Creation story in Genesis were that:
1) God created nature. God is not in nature, and nature is not God. Nature is nothing more than His handiwork. Therefore, it is He, not nature, that is to be worshipped. The pagan world held nature in esteem; its gods were gods of nature (they were not above nature).
2) Nature cannot be worshipped because nature is amoral, whereas God is moral.
3) All of creation had one purpose: the final creation, the human being.
With the demise of the biblical religions that have provided the American people with their core values since the country’s inception, we are reverting to the pagan worldview. Trees and animals are venerated, while man is simply one more animal in the ecosystem. And he is largely a hindrance, not an asset.
On February 20, a pit bull attacked a four-year-old boy, Kevin Vicente, leaving the boy with a broken eye socket and a broken jaw. Kevin will have to undergo months, perhaps years, of reconstructive surgeries. A Facebook page was set up to raise funds. But it wasn’t set up for Kevin. It was set up for the dog. The “Save Mickey” page garnered more than 70,000 “likes” and raised more than enough money to provide legal help to prevent the dog from being euthanized. There were even candlelight vigils and a YouTube plea for the dog.
The nonprofit legal group defending Mickey is the Lexus Project. According to CBS News, “the same group fought earlier this year for the life of a dog that fatally mauled a toddler in Nevada.”
This is the trend: Nature over man.
This is why environmentalists oppose the Keystone pipeline: Nature over man. The pipeline will provide work for thousands of people, and it will greatly increase the energy independence of Canada and the United States. But to the true believers who make up much of the environmentalist movement, none of that matters — just as they didn’t care about the millions of Africans who died of malaria as a result of the environmentalists’ successful efforts to ban DDT.
One of the fathers of environmentalism is John Lovelock, the scientist who originated the Gaia hypothesis of the earth as a single living organism. Sunday, a writer for The Guardian reported that Lovelock now has a few criticisms of the movement he helped start: “Talking about the environmental movement, Lovelock says: ‘It’s become a religion, and religions don’t worry too much about facts.’” Some of us wonder if the latest IPCC report doesn’t worry too much about facts.
Lovelock also told the interviewer “that he had been too certain about the rate of global warming in his past book . . . that fracking and nuclear power should power the UK, not renewable sources such as windfarms.”
As G. K. Chesterton prophesied over a hundred years ago: “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”
Now it’s the environment.

Cold War Again: Who’s Responsible? By Stephen F. Cohen.

Cold War Again: Who’s Responsible? By Stephen F. Cohen. The Nation, April 1, 2014.

Meet Stephen F. Cohen, Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend in the American Media. By Cathy Young. The Daily Beast, March 16, 2014.

Why the Palestinians Have No Excuse Not to Recognize the Jewish State. By Adi Schwartz.

Why the Palestinians have no excuse not to recognize the Jewish state. By Adi Schwartz. i24 News, April 1, 2014.

Bashing Netanyahu Won’t Bring Peace Any Closer. By Jeff Jacoby. NJBR, March 8, 2014.


It is now clear that of the many issues on the table in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is perhaps the most contentious one. So much so, that the Arab League included an absolute rejection of such recognition in the closing declaration of its annual summit last week.
While it seems a theoretical issue, with no practical meaning, it could still wreck the entire negotiating process. But why? How come acknowledging Israel’s nature (which Secretary John Kerry has rightly pointed out was recognized by the international community back in the Partition Plan of 1947) is so difficult for the Arab side? Does it really have to be so difficult?
From the Israeli perspective, it is a justified and legitimate request. If Israel is expected to give up strategic territory and bring its border as close as 22 kilometers from its main metropolis, it has to be assured in return that a peace agreement with the Palestinians puts an end to all future demands. If the Arab side continues to dream about dismantling the Jewish state—and to act accordingly—it makes no sense for Israel to give up territory.
The undermining of the post-agreement Jewish state can be achieved either by attempts to flood it with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, or by fomenting unrest and demanding autonomy and later on independence for the Arab minority inside Israel, or by sheer force.
Only a crystal clear message from the Arab side that the conflict is over, merits ceding territory. Such a clear message means acknowledging that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and will remain so.
Arab officials, however, have raised concerns. They correctly observed that such recognition would mean accepting the Israeli narrative regarding Jewish rights over some of the land. Indeed, a peace agreement and a process of reconciliation would necessitate an update of the Arab narrative that views the entire land as exclusively Arab and Muslim.
But since the Jewish narrative evolved along the years, so can the Palestinian narrative change. Back in 1919, when Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann, laid out Zionism's claims in Versailles, the map he presented included all the territory west of the River Jordan (and areas in today's Lebanon). Jews saw the entire land as theirs, but as soon as 1937, the Zionist movement was ready to accept less than that vision.
The same process of Israeli accommodation can be traced in its views regarding a Palestinian independent state, which was anathema to the Israeli leadership until late in the 1980s. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir even famously said that there was no such thing as a “Palestinian people.” In the last 15 years, however, all Israeli prime ministers have accepted, reluctantly or not, the notion of a Palestinian sovereign state in the territories.
Another Palestinian argument against recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is that it would jeopardize the status of the Arab minority in Israel. But a Palestinian recognition would not damage nor improve their status. The Palestinian leadership was never the custodian of the Israeli Arabs’ rights; in fact, their rights as minority members are protected in the Israeli Declaration of Independence, in Israeli law and in court rulings. Regardless of Palestinian recognition, Israel sees itself as a Jewish state, which didn’t prevent it from preserving the rights of its Arab citizens. In other words, Palestinian recognition is needed for the bilateral relations with Israel, but will have no effect on Israel’s domestic issues.
Last but not least, Palestinian officials claim that recognition would mean giving up their demand that millions of refugees and their descendants return to Israel. That is absolutely true: Palestinians must decide whether they want to replace the post-agreement Israel with yet another Arab state, or to live peacefully side by side next to Israel. If their choice is the latter, they should have no problem resettling the refugees and their descendants elsewhere. And in that case, they should have no problem in recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Only such recognition would mean that the conflict is over.